Watching the House: Statewide Teacher’s Contract
The Governor mentioned it in his State of the State and Rep. Paul Crowley (D) seemed to support looking into it and now a group of GOP legislators have introduced a bill that calls for a statewide teacher’s contract. H 5397 (sponsored by Representatives Loughlin, Gorham, Mumford, Moffitt, and Singleton) states:
(a) Effective July 1, 2008, there shall be a uniform statewide teacher contract for purposes of the employment of newly hired teachers in any public school within this state. Said contract shall be prepared by the board of regents of elementary and secondary education, who shall conduct hearings throughout the state on the form and content of such contract prior to issuing a final form of such contract. The provisions of this contract shall include, but not be limited to:
(i) The remuneration of such teacher for their professional services, including the rate of pay, the use, amount, and step, if any, used, as well as any incentives and/or other basis for merit-based pay;
(ii) A requirement that said teachers who elect to participate in the teacher’s retirement shall participate in a defined distribution plan as set forth in section 16-16-44 and shall not participate in a defined benefit plan system as provided for in Chapter 36-10.
(b) Effective on July 1, 2008, all teachers newly hired by a public school district or system shall be hired using the uniform statewide teacher contract established pursuant to the provisions of this section…
(c) No teacher employed by a school district prior to July 1, 2008 shall be subject to the uniform statewide teacher contract so long as that teacher remains continuously employed by the same school district…
(d) The uniform statewide teacher contract shall be distributed to the various hiring authorities among the school districts in the state and shall be used thereby. Provided, that the decision whether to hire or terminate any new teacher shall remain with the local school district, and the use of the uniform statewide teacher contract shall not render the teacher an employee of the state. Any teacher hired using said contract shall remain an employee of the hiring authority.
(e) Any school committee or regional school committee may, in its sole discretion, offer additional compensation or remuneration or other benefits in addition to what is provided for in the uniform statewide teacher contract, as an inducement to employment or continued employment of any certified teacher. Provided, such additional benefits, remuneration, or compensation shall not be subject to or a result of collective bargaining.
There’s more, but I didn’t want too many eyes to gloss over!
Once quick observation I had is about part (e). It gives communities the ability to pay more for teacher’s if they so desire. In effect, this will open up a competitive market for teachers. On one hand, this seems to be a good thing insofar as it encourages competition for quality teachers, which, by extension, fosters the concept of merit pay. On the other hand, poorer communities will probably be unable to offer attractive incentives to lure teachers to their more challenging schools. Is suppose that the state could subsidize the teacher salaries of these poorer districts so that they could compete. Of course, then that could lead to salary escalation and the taxpayers would end up paying more. Maybe the free market wouldn’t work? Not so fast.
I think the trick is to turn this around a bit and remember that the students are the ones who are supposed to be the consumers and thus the beneficiaries of an educational free market. Thus, teacher merit pay and bonuses is only a halfway measure. To be truly complete, a true educational free market would also give students freedom of opportunity via school choice and vouchers.